Apr 3, 2017 | By Benedict

It’s a new week and a new month in the 3D printing world, and we’re already seeing significant developments in 3D bioprinting, aerospace additive manufacturing, and consumer-level 3D printing. An intriguing patent filed by PCB specialist Nano Dimension could be the day’s hottest story.

Nano Dimension files patent application for 3D printing of bioartificial structures

Nano Dimension, the Israel-based 3D printing specialist best known for producing the Dragonfly 2020 PCB 3D printer, today announced it has filed a patent application for a new 3D printing / 3D bioprinting process. The process involves the “3D inkjet printing of bio-artificial multi-layered complex structures composed of cells, extracellular matrices, supportive components, and stable and fugitive inks.” Nano Dimension earlier this year launched a 3D bioprinting subsidiary dedicated to finding kidney disease solutions.

Nano Dimension says the proposed 3D bioprinting process could be used to develop nephron-like functioning structures to filter blood flow. The nephron is the basic structural and functional unit of the kidney, and serves to regulate the concentration of water and soluble substances by filtering the blood. A 3D printed bioartificial structure developed using the Nano Dimension method could purportedly mimic this function, giving scientists a fantastic chance to develop artificial human kidneys for transplantation.

The 3D printed bioartificial structures could also be used in pharmaceutical research, a common application of organic 3D bioprinted materials.

Airbus 3D printing parts for A330neo jetliner and BelugaXL airlifter

Aerospace giant Airbus is no stranger to 3D printing. It has worked with Sciaky, Arconic, Dassault Systèmes, and EOS on additive manufacturing projects, and could someday use the technology on half its airplane fleet. Every new use of additive manufacturing brings Airbus slightly closer to that goal, and the company recently announced that its A330neo jetliner and BelugaXL airlifter planes have both been fitted with 3D printed parts.

Airbus says that 3D printing was used to fabricate a prototype air nozzle for the A330neo passenger cabin’s climate control system, verifying a new configuration that is adapted to the aircraft’s larger overhead storage lockers. A new “Airspace by Airbus” cabin concept from the company aims to increase storage on flights for an enhanced passenger experience, and will be implemented on the A330neo and A350 XWB aircraft.

The BelugaXL, a large transport aircraft, received a different kind of 3D printed update, with new drilling templates 3D printed specifically for the vehicle. The BelugaXL, named after a large Eurasian sturgeon, is a modified version of the A330 airliner that will carry complete aircraft sections between Airbus production and assembly locations.

Marc Carré, Mock-Up Integrator for Manufacturing at Airbus Commercial Aircraft, commented on his role in Airbus’ 3D printing projects: “Operators come to me with a specific need and we discuss what’s possible, then I build a customized, computer-generated solution for manufacturing with the 3D printer.”

Aircraft-fixing Supersonic Particle Deposition (SPD) 3D printing process nears FAA certification

Sticking with the aerospace theme for a moment, and a new 3D printing technique for fixing aircraft parts could soon be approved for commercial use by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). The “cold spray” repair technique, which can be used to repair corroded and worn parts on commercial aircraft, has been developed by engineers at the University of Akron and Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services, a repair company based in Tampa, Florida.

The two parties behind the 3D printing process, which has been dubbed “Supersonic Particle Deposition (SPD),” demonstrated the technique last week at the Wilmington Air Park in front of attendees that included Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Cliff Rosenberger and Ohio Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson. FAA certification for full-scale commercial aircraft repair using the technique is expected to follow.

The additive manufacturing repair technique involves a high pressure spraying process in which metal particles contained in a supersonic jet of an expanded gas impact a solid surface with sufficient energy to cause bonding with the surface. It builds up and repairs the surface of a metal part without creating a heat-affected zone that would occur during welding or high temperature thermal spray.

Development and testing has been going on for two years, and has been supported by the State of Ohio. “This technology in commercial applications creates significant ongoing opportunities for economic advancement in Ohio through advanced manufacturing and job growth,” said Greg Smith, Director of Engineering at Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services.

Robox partners with Formfutura for TitanX ABS SmartReel 3D printing filament

CEL, the British 3D printing company known for its Robox 3D printer, has announced a partnership with Dutch 3D printing filament specialist Formfutura that will see the latter’s TitanX ABS material turned into a Robox-compatible “SmartReel” filament. SmartReels come on a spool fitted with a chip containing electronic information about the filament, its ideal temperature settings, etc. The Robox 3D printer can then read this information and adjust its settings accordingly.

TitanX, one of several new Formfutura 3D printing materials launched in early summer 2016, promises warp-free ABS printing, good first layer adhesion, and excellent thermal stability and flow. The SmartReel version of the 3D printing material will be available in black, white, and silver.

“The CEL Robox project is focused on building an eco-system around an extremely user-friendly piece of hardware, and to do this we want to bring together industry leaders to benefit 3D printer users,” said Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL. “We hope TitanX will be the first in a long line of new materials to be added to the Robox portfolio from Formfutura's extensive range. With TitanX we have a material which will allow amateur and professional users alike to benefit from high quality and functional parts combined with the ease-of-use of the Robox SmartReel system.”

 

 

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